When it comes to the best-selling acts to come out of Australia, people might think of rock bands, like AC/DC, and A-list actors, like Nicole Kidman. They likely won’t think about a children’s comedy band with songs about fruit salads and monkeys. However, The Wiggles have made millions of dollars a year, being the best-selling Australian act in 2005. How did that happen? It happened because children all over the world are enthralled by The Wiggles’ performances. While the band has gone through many lineup changes, the original and classic lineup consisted of Greg Page, Anthony Field, Murray Cook and Jeff Fatt, who never saw this success coming. Since The Wiggles are a children’ band, everything has to look pristine for the fans. However, there have been some struggles behind the scenes. The band has had to keep those struggles hidden, but now, they are ready to reveal the truth. “Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles” tells the story of the rise of The Wiggles, the changes that the band went through and the personal struggles that the members would hide behind the smiles. The documentary, which came out Oct. 24 on Prime Video, is full of nostalgia for all watchers of The Wiggles and it teaches viewers what it takes to become one of the most successful children’s bands of all time.
The documentary starts at the very beginning in the late 1980s/early 1990s up until the present. Before they were The Wiggles, the original lineup had other ventures in both music and working with children. Field and Fatt were part of a rock band, The Cockroaches. Later, Field, Cook and Page got degrees in early childhood development and became preschool teachers. It was the combination of these talents that led to The Wiggles. Naturally, they were not big right away, as they played for children’s playgroups and malls in Australia. However, word spread and before they knew it, they would get hundreds of people at their concerts and that led to home video releases. After that, they became an international phenomenon and the highlights of many childhoods. However, behind the scenes, there were some struggles that they were dealing with. For instance, Page was dealing with serious health struggles that were hindering his performing abilities and his future with the band. Field had severe depression that made the pressures of touring difficult. However, through these struggles and more, the band’s friendship stays strong. Then, over time, new members of the band join the fold, which creates new eras of The Wiggles. Will the public accept these new members? Through interviews with all members of The Wiggles as well as other people who have been professionally involved with the band in one way or another, “Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles” gives viewers a premium backstage pass.
When it comes to the entertainment I loved as a child, The Wiggles were pretty high up on the list. I always found them to be a fun time and their music was so catchy. Therefore, I liked seeing what was actually going on in their lives while I was watching them as a small child. I especially liked seeing the interviews, as that demonstrated their actual perspectives on each situation. Some documentaries are unable to have that up close view of the lives of performers, but everyone got to be involved in this documentary. They all shared different sides to situations, and that created some well-rounded stories. This documentary was full of passion. Some documentaries about bands can show a lot of strife and ruin your depictions of the groups. However, this documentary displayed that all members of The Wiggles are caring individuals. I would say it made me enjoy The Wiggles even more.
Despite my general enjoyment of the film, there were some storytelling flaws. I wish there were even more details in this documentary. For instance, I feel that their rise to fame could have been explained better, as it was not clear what put them over the top. I also wish there was more focus on some members of the original lineup. A lot of attention was given to Page, because of his health issues, and Field, because he is the only original member still left in the band. I would have liked to hear more about Cook and Fatt’s lives, as they were all contributing to The Wiggles star status. In addition, I think some of the stories in the documentary went by a little quickly. It is understandable that with decades of material, they can only fit so much, but there were some accounts that only touched the surface of what was happening. I would have wanted them to go a bit deeper on some experiences. That would have made the documentary a lot more exciting. While I absolutely enjoyed the information that I learned from this film, I think it would have been better if I got to learn even more.
When it comes to the enjoyment of this film, nostalgia is important. I’m someone who grew up watching the original lineup of The Wiggles. Therefore, I was most interested in the parts of the documentary that talked about what The Wiggles were like during the classic era. It felt like getting the inside scoop on my childhood. However, I was less interested when the documentary started talking about the new members. I did not know them, only hearing about them in passing online. Therefore, their stories were not as enthralling to me because I did not know what their version looked like or how the show evolved. The new Wiggles had some interesting stories to tell, like how they got their positions and the marriage between two of the new Wiggles along with their amicable divorce. However, I did not feel a connection to what they were talking about. That perspective would probably be true for other people who grew up with The Wiggles that I grew up with, as they are the ones we are used to. There could also be the alternative, for the younger people of younger parents who watched the new Wiggles. They may not be as interested in the old Wiggles. There is such a thing as entertainment documentaries where the stories are captivating enough that you don’t need to be a fan to watch them. However, with this documentary, the ideal viewer is a Wiggles lover.
When you are a child, you do not really think about the real lives of your favorite entertainers. They are just the people that make you smile and keep your mind occupied. Even though I watched The Wiggles a lot when I was younger, my child brain did not perceive them as people. They were just a group on my television screen that sang goofy songs. “Hot Potato: The Story of the Wiggles” peels back the curtain. The Wiggles have gone through a lot of changes, and this film puts them all on display. There were definitely some necessary changes needed in terms of how this documentary flowed and there were some parts of the documentary that did not capture my interest. However, the majority of the film was certainly captivating. The band members’ true stories were revealed, and that is what helps them be seen as actual people. Obviously I understood they were actual people as I got older, but this film made that fact clearer with the stories of their life and their experiences. I learned about who they are. So if you were a Wiggles fan growing up or you are curious about the world of child entertainment, watch “Hot Potato: The Story of The Wiggles” today.